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Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act: Anyone care about the latest resurrection?

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  • #16
    Indecency is too ambiguous a term. All that is needed is one complaint and the station in question gets fined.

    As for the poster who made the "Religious Right" comment, do you have any evidence it was the religious right trying to censor. Before you make a straw man, I would suggest you take a look at how univerisity campuses have hushed political dissent.

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    • #17
      According to the FCC, the definition of Indecency is:

      What makes material “indecent?” Indecent material contains sexual or excretory material that does not rise to the level of obscenity. For this reason, the courts have held that indecent material is protected by the First Amendment and cannot be banned entirely. It may, however, be restricted to avoid its broadcast during times of the day when there is a reasonable risk that children may be in the audience. The FCC has determined, with the approval of the courts, that there is a reasonable risk that children will be in the audience from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., local time. Therefore, the FCC prohibits station licensees from broadcasting indecent material during that period.

      Material is indecent if, in context, it depicts or describes sexual or excretory organs or activities in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium. In each case, the FCC must determine whether the material describes or depicts sexual or excretory organs or activities and, if so, whether the material is “patently offensive.”

      In our assessment of whether material is “patently offensive,” context is critical. The FCC looks at three primary factors when analyzing broadcast material: (1) whether the description or depiction is explicit or graphic; (2) whether the material dwells on or repeats at length descriptions or depictions of sexual or excretory organs; and (3) whether the material appears to pander or is used to titillate or shock. No single factor is determinative. The FCC weighs and balances these factors because each case presents its own mix of these, and possibly other, factors.


      But this only applies to the 0600-2200 (6am-10pm) time period. For the rest of the time, indecent material may be shown on broadcast television. And yet, the broadcast channels, at least around here, will still choose to air the censored versions of certain movies.

      Obscene content is never allowed.

      Neither of these descriptions bans nudity from broadcast TV at any time. In fact, nudist (on-sexual) nudity may be allowed at any time. Broadcast TV simply chooses not to do so.

      Bob S.

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      • #18
        Thank you Bob S. for bringing some sanity to this thread. As a very experienced broadcast management professional at both the local and network level for over 20 years, the FCC has regulated and the courts have enforced the FCC regulations on indecency and obscene language since 1934. This is nothing new. The definitions of indecent and obscene are clear as you pointed out. Obscene is determined by the Miller v. California test developed by the Supreme Court in the 1970's and has protected many, many, nudists from obscenity prosecutions.

        These regulations are not anything new, not anything pushed by any religious group. It applies only to broadcast television and radio. It does not apply to pay or subscription based services. If you will take the time to read the FCC regulations and read the cases in which the FCC has issued fines I believe you will see what the rather clear intent is.

        There is a 29 page FCC doccument that presents the significant cases they have ruled on in the last several years for broadcasters to use as a guide.

        There are no hard and fast rules. A key word in the regulations is context. Even the infamous F word has been used on broadcast radio and television in context to the content and was allowed.

        Anyone remember the showing of Schiindler's List on network television with full frontal nudity...context; Saving Private Ryan, context.

        Regarding the Internet, the U.S. Supreme Court has now several times overturned forms of the "child on-line protection act" as unconstitutional. What is significant is that the court, to date, has afforded the Internet the same protections enjoyed by printed materials under the constitution.

        Keep in mind, the electronic media DO NOT have the same First Amendment protections as print media under the constitution. The electronic media are not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. The only First Amendment protections enjoyed by the electronic media are those that have been given by the courts.

        I am now a university professor and teach broadcast regulation. If people would just take the time to visit the FCC's website, many would not have to waste time with these ridiculous rumors.

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        • #19
          FCC commissioners are presidential appointees, so how regulations are interpreted is in the political spectrum and can change. When Michael Powell was in charge, there was a major change in enforcement.

          Comment


          • #20
            quote:
            quote:
            These regulations are not anything new, not anything pushed by any religious group.
            Hogwash. Free speech is in danger, and it is the far right that is mobilized to do so...


            The regulations being pushed by the FAR RIGHT are NEW. They are over and above the repressive "decency codes" established in the mid 1930s (which were antiquated even then) going further in their repression of Free Speech ... something some among these forums are desireous of themselves ...

            One poster has it correct, it is the words of English origin (not just Angle-Saxon, but Gael, Breton and a few others) which is to say Germanic origin that are the ones considered "obscene" this goes back to the Norman invasion of England in 1066 when they brought their Bastardized French with them (French being of Latin origin) and it became the "offical" language of the royal court and the native language became the language of the serfs.

            It is extremely ironic that those that wish to ban their own language are so eager to do so, don't even know it is their own language ... a far older and richer language than the upstart Latin they adore.

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            • #21
              Being either a conservative (far-right) or a liberal (far-left) issue, it is an issue that we should keep our eyes open to. As stated, once the foot is inside the door, the rest will eventually follow. Let's hope things work out for the better and not trample on our (nudist) right to be free, (within reason minded) .

              Comment


              • #22
                quote:
                Originally posted by Bob S.:
                ...

                Neither of these descriptions bans nudity from broadcast TV at any time. In fact, nudist (on-sexual) nudity may be allowed at any time. Broadcast TV simply chooses not to do so.

                Bob S.


                And no doubt the BDEA (should be short for "BaD idEA") will help them choose not to do so.

                Comment


                • #23
                  Y'all, you have to ask yourselves why countries without the draconian measures of the FCC are able to show a lot more positive nudity. Why does the context of nudity (to use Bob's examples) have to be in one of death and danger.

                  If a broadcast station actually opted to show a primetime fashion show or arts show that showed nudity in say, a non-sexual, joyous way, do you really think they wouldn't be in grave danger of having their pants sued off by the FCC?

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Quote:
                    "Indecency is too ambiguous a term. All that is needed is one complaint and the station in question gets fined.

                    "As for the poster who made the "Religious Right" comment, do you have any evidence it was the religious right trying to censor. Before you make a straw man, I would suggest you take a look at how univerisity campuses have hushed political dissent."



                    Something like 99.9% (sic) of complaints about "indecency" on television come from one organization, the Parents Television Council. It employs people to count numbers of references to sex and body parts and uses such tabulations as the basis for its complaints.

                    As for squelching political speech on campus, I know of no evidence that there is substantial suppression of the expression of unpopular ideas. I personally oppose speech codes, but debate should be done in a personally respectful manner and, as a free speech purist, I think people should have a right to use disrespectful epithets, but I also think that they should not do so.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Albinus:"And no doubt the BDEA (should be short for "BaD idEA") will help them choose not to do so."

                      That's why I added my statement that broadcast TV simply chooses not to show nudity on TV. It is the fear of reprisal from the FCC and the increased fines. It was why, in the wake of the Janet fiasco, NBC opted not to show the exposed breast of en elderly patient on "ER".

                      Ultimately, I think the broadcast stations are more worried about the complaints than the potential for fines. They are all competing for ratings and can't afford to turn anyone off (as if their shows don't do that anyways)

                      But at least the FCC rules aren't as draconian as the Hays Code as discussed here previously this past year.

                      Bob S.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Bob, you're correct the Hays Code was the most destructive element to rape the film industry and the broadcast media until a more realistic "code" was adopted less than 20 years ago.

                        It is a return to the Hays Code and even further ... even more draconian measures that is being pushed by the RRR.

                        I mean I remeber the "bad" old days when a married couple on TV had twin beds seperated by at least three feet and at least one foot of the actor(s) had to be on the floor at all times and the catatonic shock the USA went into when Fred and Wilma dared to share a double bed during primetime.

                        That's what the RRR is trying to revert to.
                        No one in their right mind believed married couples slept like they did on TV except 2 year olds back then and today not even a 2 year old does.
                        I wonder just what that says about the mentality of those pushing for the return of those days?

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          You can speculate all you want about the possibility of nudity appearing on telelvision bacause we believe that it is not "indecent." Some of the indecency complaints have objected to the very limited nudity on programs such as NYPD Blue and this is something that the Parents Television Council gets very agitated about. It is clear to me that TV networks are much more inclined than in the past to pixilate such things as too-deep cleavage and the ocasional plumber butt. Check out Survivor if you don't believe me.

                          Another related thing: How is the policy of this forum of protecting our sensitive eyes from the sight of the four-letter words that we are all very familiar with any different from what we are worried about on TV?

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                          • #28
                            I doubt they want to go back to the two-bed parent family, nacktman. But I do understand what you are saying. They do definitely want to push things back.

                            This goes back to the role of the parent and TV in the home. Parents are there to monitor what their kids do. That is number one in the job description of the parent handbook. But today's children are growing up in front of the TV, too many having TVs in their bedrooms. The same arguments are made for computer use and parents (at least some) are now wising up and figuring out what their children are doing online. Although a 16-year-old US girl recently travelled to Jordan to meet someone she met on MySpace, much to the shock of her parents who did not know about the conversations.

                            TV and computer content can easily be monitored by parents. All they have to do is open their eyes and gradually give their children the chance to earn certain privacy priveledges.

                            meredith:"How is the policy of this forum of protecting our sensitive eyes from the sight of the four-letter words that we are all very familiar with any different from what we are worried about on TV?"

                            George Carlin, in the 70s (I think) had a comedy bit about the words banned from TV. Of them (were there seven?) only two are still banned, s**t and f**k. B***h is now allowed on daytime TV. Interestingly, A** is allowed, but a**hole is not. pi**ed off is allowed but pi**ed on is not.

                            note: I censored all words myself. I hate writing them).

                            Bob S.

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Bob S and all....there is NO FCC list of "banned words." Section 326 of the rules and regulations forbids the FCC from prior censorship.

                              Regarding the F and S word Bob, both have aired on local and network radio and television with no fines as they were used in proper context.

                              The FCC can, after the fact, issue a forfiture if, based on community standards, they feel the broadcaster used the language improperly or outside of the "safe harbor" for children.

                              Again, these rules and regulations only apply to broadcast services, not pay serivces like cable or satellite radio.

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Nathan B is telling us that the FCC censorship regime is less strict than that of this forum.

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